Human error blamed for halal sausage contamination

Some "element of human error" has been linked to the incident of pork contamination in halal chicken sausages at a primary school in Westminster.

In a statement released to the press, Nigel J Tottman, managing director of Nigel Fredericks, which is one of the companies implicated in the issue, explained that the product in question was sourced from Brook Farm Sausages. The sausages were then supplied to the school by the distributor Chartwells, which created a supply chain of three companies.

Tottman explained his company has used Brook Farm Sausages for many years and thinks the incident was an isolated one, involving "some element of human error".

Investigation

He said: "We are currently investigating the cause of this unfortunate and regrettable incident as a matter of utmost priority, together with Chartwells and Brook Farm Sausages."

Further to this, he added, the company was sorry a product failing to meet the high standards both it and consumers expected came through its supply chain. He also said he would like to "extend our apologies to any person who has potentially eaten this product".

Discovery

Pork DNA was confirmed to be in the halal chicken sausages last week by Westminster Council. The Food Standards Agency was alerted to the incident on Monday, 11 March.

As a result, said Andrew Christie, Westminster City Council’s director of children’s services: "We have asked our contractor Chartwells to no longer use the meat supplier involved.

"The discovery of pork in these sausages came about because of extra tests Westminster City Council decided to carry out. The results were all the more shocking given the assurances about the food we receive from our suppliers. I can assure parents we will keep testing our school meals."

Meanwhile, Tottman explained: "Since media speculation started in January concerning the integrity of meat labelling, we have had over 15 samples taken from our premises and/or our customer’s premises, mostly at random, and many without our knowledge.

"So far, with the exclusion of the sausages named in this incident, every result that has come back has been certified as completely clean from anything other than what was stated on the label."

Approved process

Brook Farm Sausages told MeatInfo.co.uk that it had no further comments to make on the issue, and managing director Klaus Koentopp said the matter was under investigation. In a statement he said: "We supply over 20,000kg of sausages every week, and have robust and regulatory approved processes throughout our factory. We have never had any issue such as this before. We have also had two completely clear tests taken from our products so far, and we await the outcome of a third.

"Due to these robust processes, and further to a complete internal investigation, we agree with the Nigel Fredericks statement that we can only think this has happened as a result of human operator error with one batch of these sausages, and this is what may have led to the cross-contamination."

The company apologised for the incident and also extended its apologies to any person who may have consumed the product.

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